My grandma and I were not insanely close, but I did love her dearly, and I have such fond memories of her. She possessed all of her mental (and physical) faculties right up until she died of advanced pancreatic cancer this past summer. We talked at least every week if not more, and she sent cards for every holiday (and I mean every–Flag Day and Presidents’ Day included)–separately. I would get one, and each of my kids got their own cards with a single dollar bill for each year of their age.
I haven’t really mourned her death in a meaningful way.
When she discovered the stage 4 pancreatic cancer, I got on a plane that very weekend and flew home to visit her. I knew she would go downhill fast, and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself if I didn’t visit and say my own version of a goodbye in person while she could still smile, stand, breathe. So, I braved my pandemic anxieties and flew back to see her. Of all the hard decisions I’ve made, I’m gladdest I made that one.
She died exactly one month after I visited her. I am so, so sad that my children last saw her on Facetime, something she didn’t really understand or want to be using. I am so, so very sad that they didn’t get to see her one last time in person, and that they likely won’t remember much of her given their young ages.
My husband was supposed to accompany me to her funeral, but the morning we were to leave, our nanny (who was to stay with the kids) not only tested positive for Covid, but was admitted to the ICU. We panicked. I cried. I could barely breathe.
So, now we’d all been exposed (someone who was in our home 8 hours every day, driving with and playing closely with our kids), and I knew I couldn’t get on a plane. But, I was also providing the music for the funeral–it was in my grandmother’s will, and I also couldn’t leave my family in a lurch at the last minute. And so, I drove the 15 hours by myself. It was agonizing, and then I donned two N95 masks and stayed in the balcony for the funeral, playing the music she requested in her will, while my family was downstairs. I didn’t dare hug or talk to them, since, you know, Covid exposure.
It was surreal. And as such, it didn’t feel real. I was exhausted mentally, emotionally, and physically. I was delirious.
This morning on my way to work, I really wanted to call my grandma. And for the first time, 6 months after her death, it felt real. And I feel so, so sad.